Tags: Egypt Renews Call for Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict
Egypt Renews Call for Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (left) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri brief reporters on their latest cease-fire proposal Friday. (Getty Images)

Egypt Renews Call for Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict

Friday, 18 July 2014 02:57 PM EDT

Egypt renewed its call for a truce to end the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza on Friday, as France asked Qatar to use its influence with the Palestinian militant group to reach a cease-fire.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, speaking at a news conference in Cairo with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, urged all sides to engage in negotiations to end the bloodshed.

Shukri said he had increased his efforts to convince the main players to accept an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. Israel accepted an earlier Cairo initiative, but Hamas rejected it and continued firing rockets at civilian targets in the Jewish state.

"We hope that all sides will support this initiative so that bloodshed stops and this escalation does not get worse. We call on all sides to accept this proposal. We are working to find a framework so that both sides agree," Shukri said.

Israel intensified its ground offensive in Gaza, a densely-populated enclave of 1.8 million Palestinians, with artillery, tanks and gunboats on Friday. The Israeli land advance followed 10 days of barrages against Gaza from air and sea, and hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas into Israel.

In total nearly 270 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and two Israelis have been killed.

Fabius told Reuters that France had asked Qatar, which has close links with Hamas, to help to reach a cease-fire.

"President Mahmoud Abbas asked me to use France's influence with its partners to try to convince Hamas to accept a ceasefire," he said, referring to the Palestinian Authority's president, Mohamed Abbas, whom he met earlier on Friday.

Egypt, which has brokered cease-fires in previous Israeli-Palestinian flare-ups, sees Hamas as a security threat because it is an offshoot of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which was removed from power by the Egyptian army last year after massive popular protests against the Islamist government..

Shukri has said Hamas could have saved Palestinian lives if it had accepted the first initiative presented by Egypt.

Hamas leaders said they were frozen out of talks and not consulted on the Egyptian initiative, and that it did not address their demands, such as an end to a blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.

Highlighting the difficulties in getting all sides to agree, Qatar's foreign minister appeared to rebuff Fabius.

Minister Khaled al-Attiyah received a phone call from Fabius on Friday in which they searched for ways to reach a cease-fire agreement, the state news agency said.

Qatar emerged as a leading supporter of Islamist groups after Arab Spring protests that began in 2011, and it sees the standoff as a chance to prove itself as a mediator. It hosts a number of exiled Islamists from across the Middle East, including Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Fabius meets the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday before traveling to Jordan and Israel to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"What we need to do is to avoid falling into this vicious cycle where we won't have a ceasefire without talks, and vice versa," Fabius said.


© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Egypt Renews Call for Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict
Friday, 18 July 2014 02:57 PM
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